On this segment of “On the Couch with Gail,” we’re talking about keeping up with your partner’s sexual appetites. It’s been said that sex can make or break a relationship. And as many couples already know, it’s not always easy to bridge the divide when it comes to different desires. Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and “Today” contributor, goes over the results of a survey of our readers’ sex lives.
Other than, perhaps money, sex is the number one thing that couples argue over. For many couples, sexual satisfaction can make or break a relationship. So understanding how you feel about sex and how your partner feels about it can make all the difference between happily ever after — and splitsville.
Communicating your desires, likes and dislikes is paramount to achieving intimacy and preventing anger and resentment from building up. Believe it or not, there is a definite correlation between how happy you both are in the bedroom and how happy you are overall in a relationship. To find out how satisfied men and women are with their sex lives, we surveyed our readers at Today.MSNBC.com. We asked them if they’re getting enough sex, if they like to initiate sex, and if they would prefer if their partner made the first move. We also asked them when they want sex and what makes them say no.
Not surprisingly, our survey (which had almost 1,400 respondents) showed that men want sex more frequently than women, but not by an obscene amount. Sixteen percent of men would like to have sex several times a day, whereas only nine percent of women feel that way. But almost half of both genders (48 percent of women and 45 percent of men) wanted sex two to three times a week, which happens to be the national average. It is very notable that 69 percent of men wished their partner would initiate sex more often. This is something women should consider, when they think about their love lives.
Many women don’t initiate because they think it’s not feminine to be aggressive; they think they should wait for him to make the first move. But this is bologna — truly. Men want women to make the first move. They think it’s sexy, they get tired of putting themselves out there all the time. So, go for it ladies, make the move. And since 71 percent of men said they never turn down their partner for sex (compared with only 43 percent of women), women should feel comfortable taking the initiative. Chances are he’s not going to say no.
However, women are much more likely to say no. So men take more of a risk initiating sex than women do. Fifty-one percent of women turn sex down because they are not in the mood, whereas only 26 percent of men do. Men and women agree that they usually feel friskier just before bedtime. And they agreed about what puts them in the mood. Phew! Both prefer either a quiet night at home or a romantic dinner. This makes sense, considering that in these situations the couple is likely to be talking and feeling closer to each other. For women, intimacy is a necessary foreplay to sex.
Men and women are different when it comes to sexual thought and activity. So they have to put in some work to make it work well together, where both are satisfied. Here are some important things to remember:
- Tell your partner what you want.
- Be encouraging when hearing what your partner likes.
- Spend time before sex talking and feeling close.
- Be willing to make compromises about what you want.
- Make a good sex life a priority.
Of course, some folks who don’t want sex at all. In our survey, five percent of the women wanted sex “as infrequently as possible” and four percent of the men felt the same way. When you think of the whole population, that is a lot of men and women. So if this is how you feel about sex, realize you are not alone and that help is available. Relationships do not survive well without a satisfying sex life, and if you have no desire there may be either a medical or psychological explanation. You should seek help. Start with your internist or gynecologist (if you are a woman), and if the cause turns out to be neither medical nor hormonal, then seek the help of a certified sex therapist.